Turkey detains hundreds over PKK links after Istanbul blasts

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey has detained 568 people over alleged links to Kurdish militants in raids over the last two days, the interior ministry said on Tuesday, intensifying a crackdown after twin bombings killed 44 people outside an Istanbul soccer stadium.

The operation was launched at around dawn on Monday and detentions made in 28 provinces across Turkey, the ministry said in a statement. An offshoot off the militant Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) has claimed responsibility for the attacks on Saturday night, which also wounded more than 150 people.

Members of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), parliament’s second-biggest opposition grouping, have been among the detained, the interior ministry said.

Police in Istanbul and the southern city of Adana detained 45 provincial officials from the HDP over allegations of links to the PKK, Anadolu said on Monday.

President Tayyip Erdogan has accused the HDP of links to the PKK. The HDP, which last year became the first Kurdish party to enter parliament, denies direct links to militants.

Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu vowed on Monday those responsible for Saturday’s attacks would be “wiped from this geography” in comments that echoed previous government statements promising to seek revenge from the Kurdish militants.

The PKK, which took up arms against the Turkish state in 1984 and is fighting for Kurdish autonomy, is deemed a terrorist organization by the United States and European Union, as well as by Turkey. Saturday’s attack was one of the deadliest claimed by Kurdish militants for decades.

Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by David Dolan